I’ve always had the dream of doing my own startup. Little did I know that by pursuing that dream, ironically my dreams would begin to keep me up at night.
Background and Updates
My good friend Eric and I have been working on a website for a few months now. Up until a few weeks ago all we had were three dudes writing code and a partial implementation of a website. Eric and I believe that what we’re doing could be as big as Facebook, but thus far I’ve been hesitant to call what we’re doing a “startup” — we don’t have an office, we’re without salary, we haven’t launched a product yet, and we don’t have employees. Although recently our “website” has begun to get far more serious.
First, we decided to hire a corporate lawyer to help us incorporate. Originally a lawyer friend of mine was helping us in his free time, but he has so little free time that he wasn’t able to provide the service that we needed. Our lawyer is an awesome dude and he’s great to work with, but lawyers are expensive. The legal and incorporation fees will be the first major expense Eric and I will pay out of our pockets. And it’s scary.
Furthermore, the third guy we were working with parted ways with us — the decision was mutual and the whole process was very sane. (The third guy is probably the nicest, most selfless person I’ve ever met. He’s an awesome dude and we’re sad to not be working with him anymore.) Yet seeing work relationships develop and unfold is making our website feel pretty damn real.
And lastly, the product we’re building is very sophisticated in its simplicity, which is causing us to work for months on end with no product launch. Not to mention Eric and I are new to Ruby on Rails.
This whole startup thing is really hard. Not having a salary is stressful. Paying for services out of pocket that enable the business is worrisome. Cranking on a minimum viable product (MVP) of a sophisticated product that isn’t launched requires internal motivation and inspiration. I’m not sleeping well, constantly thinking about technical problems that still need solving. I’m writing this at 4am, after sleeping from 10am-midnight and working from midnight to 4am.
But it’s all worth it in the end. Never have I felt so sure about what I’m doing with my career and professional life. Eric and I are working together very well, and we’re having an awesome time. Even if our product fails, I’ll have learned so much about myself by doing this that it’s all worth it.
What keeps me going, in addition to having a blast building the product and a dogma that what we’re doing will make peoples’ lives better, is remembering the time I spent sitting at a desk, with a job I knew wasn’t my passion — remembering what it feels like to be building someone else’s company, to be doing someone else’s work. I’m putting myself through this insanely stressful process because it’s the price I need to pay to do what I love. And it’s all worth it in the end.
I’ll close with a story from my 207 bike ride. The sun was setting behing me as Keith and I descended into the evening after the last tough climb, Sierra Road. I had been riding since 5am, climbed a total of about 18,000 vertical feet over several mountains, and traveled over 150 miles. 40 miles remained, I was cold, we rode through pitch darkness, our headlights the only light for as far as we could see.
Between my shivering I asked myself why I was doing this — why I signed up for this ridiculous bike ride. The answer was because I could.